Is It Considered ‘Unhygienic’ To Wear Your Outside Clothes Inside Your Home?

Everybody has their own idea of what they consider necessary hygiene practices in their home.

For instance, some people insist that hands must be washed upon entering the kitchen, while others are a bit more laid-back.

Some Families Wear Shoes Indoors

Shoes lined on door mat at front door of home
Photo Credit: Lisa / Pexels
Photo Credit: Lisa / Pexels

Certain people draw the line at wearing shoes indoors while other families will say, “Don’t worry about your shoes!”

It raises interesting questions about why some people are so picky, and whether they may be onto something.

Shoes And Clothes Could Possibly Introduce Bacteria Into Your Home

Shoes on pillows
Photo Credit: Bran Sodre / Pexels
Photo Credit: Bran Sodre / Pexels

For some people, if the clothing they wore outside comes into contact with their “inside” furniture or bedding, it can become a real-life nightmare.

Part of the reason is that they are wary of the potential bacteria and germs that could come into the home on their clothing.

Is It Considered “Unhygienic”? An Expert Answers

Woman wearing yoga clothes lies on her back in bed
Photo Credit: Tim Samuel / Pexels
Photo Credit: Tim Samuel / Pexels

So how unhygienic is it to actually wear clothing outdoors and then sit on the couch or climb into bed?

A specialist disease expert from the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences named Dr. Thomas A. Russo explained the science of it to SELF and we’re breaking down the most important details.

“The Risk Isn’t Zero, But The Risk Is Very Low” —Dr. Russo

Man rubs his eye from irritation
Photo Credit: ahmad gunnaivi / Unsplash
Photo Credit: ahmad gunnaivi / Unsplash

Dr. Russo says that while our clothes could possibly play a small role in transmitting pathogens, it is not often harmful unless certain conditions are met.

For instance, if you wear clothing that has come into contact with an illness-causing pathogen (like a flu virus), you would have to touch the exact spot of the clothing that was affected, within a certain time period, and then immediately touch your eyes or mouth.

Some Clothing Particles Can Even “Trap” Particles

Woman riding subway wearing mask, other passengers visible behind her
Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels
Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

While the likelihood of bringing a potentially viral pathogen into your home on your clothing is quite small, it is not impossible.

Certain viruses or bacteria only need a small presence to infect someone, while others require a larger amount of “infecting microbes.” Dr. Russo adds that some clothing fibers can even act to “trap” some particles, keeping them from spreading to your hands.

There Are Some Things You Can Do To Minimize The Risk

Woman shopping in supermarket looking at pineapples
Photo Credit: Artem Beliaikin / Pexels
Photo Credit: Artem Beliaikin / Pexels

So don’t panic if you’ve come home from the market and plopped on the couch—it’s probably no big deal!

However, if you’re still skeptical, Dr. Russo says there are some practices you can put in place to make sure that every precaution is taken.

Hand Washing Is The Most Important Way To Control Bacteria

Woman washing hands in bathroom sink
Photo Credit: Anna Shvets / Pexels
Photo Credit: Anna Shvets / Pexels

He says you can manage the small risk associated with wearing “outside clothes” on your indoor furniture by maintaining good hand hygiene.

Dr. Russo adds that most pathogens are introduced to the body by contaminated hands making contact with the mouth, eyes, and nose area.

Your Shoes Are Most Likely To Track Pathogens Into The Home

Shoes in the mud
Photo Credit: Stephen Murphy / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Stephen Murphy / Unsplash

As far as items that are most likely to bring potential pathogens or bacteria into your home, the thing to watch out for is your shoes.

Studies have shown that shoes are capable of transmitting all sorts of nasty things ranging from dog poop to spit on the street. So keep that in mind when planning where to leave your shoes!

If You Have Allergies, You Could Be Bringing Allergens Into The Home On Your Clothing

Laundry hamper filled with clothing
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Immunologists advise that common allergens (like dust, pollen, and pet dander) can easily hitchhike a ride on our clothing.

If you have allergies, it’s a good idea to have a designated spot in your home where you can immediately strip off and deposit any contaminated clothing. This includes hats, jackets, and sunglasses.

Hats, Sunglasses, And Masks Can Protect Against Local Allergens

Man wearing hat, sunglasses, and mask
Photo Credit: Raspopova Marina / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Raspopova Marina / Unsplash

Pollen can also easily get on your skin and in your hair or eyebrows. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can help lower the chances of this happening.

Wearing a mask for yard work can also help. Some experts even recommend washing your hair after being outside when the pollen count is high to avoid the pollen transferring to your pillows or furniture.

Vacuum Your Fabric Furniture At Least Weekly

Woman vacuums carpet with yellow vacuum
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

If you have fabric furniture in your home, it’s good practice to vacuum regularly (at least once a week) to eliminate potentially harmful particles.

There are also disinfectant fabric sprays if you really want to take it up a level.

Always Be Extra Cautious If You Spend Time In A High-Risk Environment (Like A Hospital)

Woman washing hands at nursing station
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Long story short, the odds of you tracking in a harmful pathogen on your clothing is highly unlikely, but not impossible.

Always be sure to swap your “outside” clothing if you work in a high-risk environment such as a hospital or public space. According to the experts, leaving your shoes at the door and washing your hands often is the best way to protect yourself.